Motivational Mondays #2

10 Jan


Euphoric You

I am working as hard as I can to launch my blog under the domain rather than this one. That’s right, I’m going to self-host my blog.

Mornings can be a rushed, tiring ordeal during the week. Time can fly by and you can easily be late for work or school. However, these easy tips will help you better manage your mornings, so that you have a good, motivating start to the day:

  • Eat a large breakfast – I know you’ve probably heard this before but eat a large breakfast.It will give you more energy for the rest of the day.

  • Drink lots of water – Cold water wakes you up faster than coffee.

  • Sleep with the blinds half open – This way the natural light will start to wake you up, and you feel less sleepy when the alarm goes off.

  • Stay away from that sleep button –…

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Long, slim and trim!

26 Aug

What a week! On a positive note, the (unfinished) ensuite bathroom now looks like this…………………



There’s still a way to go, but when you think how it started out (I know I’ve showed these photos before but I just find the difference between the two shots mind blowing!)………….



But as amazing as this progress is, it has been a rollercoaster ride to get to this stage. First the tiler and I disagreed over what area of the shower should be covered in mosaic tiles – I wanted the whole thing done, he wanted them to stop a foot shy of the wall on the right. I won, but the victory was bittersweet as we didn’t have enough mosaic tiles and had to wait twenty four hours for a delivery of an additional batch. This meant  Mr Tiler couldn’t move on and start tiling the wall he wanted to once the floors were done, so he wasn’t happy with me. Apparently he plans out the order of a job in advance and HE DOES NOT like to deviate from that. But in the end it was worth enduring his wrath I think……….


Anyway, the mosaic incident was quickly overshadowed when Mr Tiler found he had ‘spontaneously chipped’ not one but two tiles AFTER they had been glued down AND grouted. He had to shimmy them up again, not an easy job when you consider all the tiles around them had also been stuck down and grouted.

Then there followed a ‘trim’ (you know the stuff that you put round the edges of tiled walls) disaster! As a result of two and a half hours driving round three different tile shops (including four visits and two phone calls to one) I now know more about tile trim than I ever thought it was possible to know. For instance did you know that trim not only comes in different widths, but also different lengths and it seems qualities.

After deciding late on Monday evening, under the advice of Mr Tiler, that we could do better than the Wickes own brand beige trim that IB had bought, I set out on Tuesday morning to buy some Homelux tile trim, thicker and curved with a smooth satin finish, it was a more substantial and superior tile trim. Unfortunately, only one of the local tile shops stocked it but only in white. Taking pity on me, the nice man in Reed and Harris introduced me to silver trim, an EVEN MORE SUPERIOR tile trim (who knew!) but it was pricey and a quick call to IB resulted in a trip to Wickes where I got a version (not quite as good) that was £5 cheaper. Ten sticks (I’m not sure if this is the official term!) of trim later I arrived home only to be told by a now once more irate Mr. Tiler (who was refusing to move on with tiling the next wall  wall until he had the trimmed up the first one!)  that the new trim was shorter (by half a meter) than the original beige one. So after a quick call to Reed and Harris to determine how long their trim was, it was back in the car again. A half hour later I was proudly brandishing the new longer length trim in front of Mr Tiler’s nose only to be told that I’d been sold 9mm trim that had been labelled as 10mm trim and so I needed to take it back and get the next size up (12mm in case you’re interested)…………. Anyway, it was all worth it in the end because  now we have the Louboutins of the trim world on our as yet ungrouted bathroom walls, and because Reed and Harris sell at trade prices we’re still in budget – Hurrah!


12mm wide, 2.5m long, silver trim in situ!

The rise of the sunken bath!

20 Aug

Well it’s finally gone. Not just the sunken bath but ALL evidence that it ever existed has been completely and utterly obliterated by hunky plumber man. Walking into the ensuite now instead of a gaping hole with spectular views into the garage below, we’re greeted by a flat solid floor that’s primed and ready for Mr Tiler who arrives on Monday (not last Monday as previously reported, I got a bit carried away in my excitement!). So here we are, one sunkenless bath bathroom floor !




IB has spent the weekend ‘tanking’ the ensuite – i.e. making it waterproof so that it can stand up to its new role as a wet room. This involved pasting a special waterproof gloop onto the walls and floors and glueing a waterproof ‘bandage’ into the corners of the shower area. I was so proud of myself on Friday evening when hunky plumber man called me up to the ensuite to explain what needed to be done over the weekend in order to ensure the room was ready for the tiler’s arrival. I concentrated very hard, asked lots of relevant questions and by the end of the conversation was fully briefed on the art of tanking. Of course my enthusiasm stopped short of actually wanting to the job myself!


Tanked up and ready to tile………..

Over the weekend, (as I supported IB through the tanking process) I started wondering if there are still people out there embracing the sunken bath. It occurred to me that while our avocado sunken bath was for us a 1970’s relic too far, there may be more appealing modern day alternatives.  A quick mooch around the internet shows this to be the case, although  none of them will tempt me back. I for one am much happier in the knowledge that I am no longer effectively having a bath in the garage ceiling!




From impactlab (the wooden planks can cover the bath over when its not in use so that would be ALWAYS for me!)

From bolligdrom

Let her eat cake!

12 Aug

It’s quite frustrating knowing that you’re not making much progress on your home renovations, particularly when you’re pumped and ready to go! We’ve done everything we can since coming back from holiday to prepare for the kitchen build and the  bathroom refit, but we’ve had to twiddle our DIY thumbs until the ‘professionals’ come in and do their bit! Anyway, a huge HURRAH because hunky plumber man started work on the ensuite on Thursday! Actually he arrived with a plus one, as there was no way he was going to be able to remove the sunken bath without some help (I would happily have lent a hand if only he’d asked!). So now, the bath is gone, the toilet and sink have been removed and the boarded up door has been plastered over, all ready for the tiler to start next week.

Remember this………..



And the view from underneath (i.e. in the garage)….


Well instead we have this………………


OK so its a work in progress!


We had a slight tile crisis on Monday as it turned out the Travertine tiles that we’d set our hearts on need sealing after they’re laid, plus resealing every couple of years after that. This all sounded like too much hard work – they were high maintenance tiles and high maintenance anything is to be avoided! On top of that, when the tiler came out to measure up the room and check out the sample tile, it literally crumbled into pieces in his hand!






Oh and this is what I’ve been getting up to when I’m not DIYing! Made from scratch – even the almond and lemon pastry! I’ve got to have an outlet for all this  pent up DIY energy…………


Old vs New

4 Aug

IB hadn’t even unpacked after our holiday before he was rummaging in the cupboard for his toolbelt and foraging in the garage for his power tools. There wasn’t any particular DIY emergency just a very big, clunky 1950’s radiator that needed to be evicted from our spare room.  Taking it out is not as easy as it might seem given its cast iron! Still it gave IB an opportunity to use some of his more manly DIY tools and after an hour or two of sweating, swearing and sawing, out it came!





So I have yet another item for ebay.  IB’s starting to get concerned about the size of the ebay pile now and I think I might be in trouble if I don’t start listing stuff soon

Anyway as part of my research on the value of cast iron radiators, I found this website –  Some of these radiators are fab, not right for our house, but still fab!







The gardens in Spain grow mainly……..anywhere you like!

31 Jul

Sincere apologies that this has been a blog-free zone for the last week or so. But I’m delighted to say this was down to the fact that the DIY Dame was hanging out in Spain.  I meant to put one of these signs on my ‘blog door’ before I left (from…………….



But I ran out of time on the day we left. Those precious hours before we drove to the airport on that cold rainy British summer’s day, disappeared in a cloud of chaotic last minute packing (clothes are fine, it’s always the sundry kids stuff – calpol, inhalers, snacks for the car, snacks for the plane, swim goggles, sick bag etc – that take most  time to pack!).

Anyway after ten days of glorious Spanish sunshine and many hours idled away reading by the pool or on the beach, IB and I now feel rested and ready for DIY action once more. In truth six months filled with the house move, renovations and juggling work/parenthood had taken their toll.  There was of course no escape from parenting in Spain (although kids on holiday are fun as opposed to kids that you’re trying to get out the door for school/make do their homework) but it was a delight to have a break from thinking about kitchen design, building plans, paint swatches, sunken baths  etc. Maybe more committed DIY/home improvement crusaders would think us lacking in commitment but hey so be it.

Of course it would be a lie to say I switched off completely from thoughts of decoration and design. I carried my camera with me whenever we went out but not just to take obligatory holiday shots. I was on a quest for inspiration for our home courtesy of the streets of Marbella and remote Spanish villages.

One of the key things that stood out for me as I clicked my way through our holiday was not what the Spanish are doing with the inside of their house but rather what’s happening on the outside. In towns big and small across Spain there is, unusually for such a green country, a lack of garden space for the individual home owner. But the Spanish are very creative in how they approach the challenge of creating gardens without having actual gardens!  This week I’ve seen balcony gardens, window gardens, foot high walls functioning as garden space and in the most creative (and colourful) case, steps converted into a front garden creating a beautiful flowering walkway for their owner! Now where did I put my spade………………..





All this from that tiny little hole bottom left!


And my personal favourite!

Is that an aerial growing out of your head or are you just pleased to see me?

15 Jul

One of the things I’ve learned over the last few months since we moved into our ‘its- got-the- potential- to–be-something -special’ house is that sometimes you have to put as much effort into what’s happening behind the scenes as you do into the ‘front of house’ stuff.  With that in mind, over the last two weekends IB and DIY Dad have been hard at work clearing a ton of moss off the roof.



Large, greeny brown tufts of moss have embedded themselves between the tiles which will cause them to lift and crack if left untreated for much longer.  The problem is though that we’ve only been able to dislodge the larger lumps of moss and there are still lots of bits left between the tiles which according to the ‘moss on the roof’ website (I kid you not!) we may need to get a professional in to dislodge it with a ‘small hard bristle brush’. Thereafter we can treat the tiles with herbicide once a year or use the much more environmentally friendly and intriguingly simple ‘copper ridge’.


According to ‘moss on the roof’ this is a ‘proven scientific solution to prevent moss recurrence’ and it really does work. It involves fitting a copper ridge or wire along the highest part of the roof. When exposed to the sun it will oxidise and small amounts of copper sulphate (a natural moss killer) will be deposited. Every time it rains this will be washed down over the tiles and voilà, no more moss!! Who knew!

Meanwhile in the boys room, it’s all about insulation, insulation, insulation. The wall under the dormer windows in their room backs on to the old roof (visible just below IB’s legs in the top picture) and it lets in a mean draught. This we discovered, is because the ‘wall’ around the windows is not brick based but rather oddly is made from MDF. DIY dad and IB spent Friday and Saturday crawling in and out of the roof space behind the ‘wall’ hammering sheets of wood onto it to make it more substantial and draught proof.  That plus the extra insulation they’ve put in there should make things a little bit cosier in the boys room come winter time!





Didn’t realise they were in there shearing sheep!